“Where’s Waldo?” A Single Woman’s On-Line Dating Saga

Perusing my local Barnes & Nobel bookstore, I held in my hands a copy of “Where’s Waldo: The Fantastic Journey”

Pouring over the colorful, eye-boggling pages I began to consider how much this book reminded me of my on-line dating experience.  Themed pages of giants, warriors, vampires, firefighters, farmers, & monks, all strangely representing various personality types of men I’d encountered along my cyber quest for love.  Though it’s been a few years, I vividly recalled a cast of conspicuously curious internet characters.

~Giants: men who were bigger than life or at least thought they were, who roared about themselves ad nauseum while looking down on others. 

~Warriors: men addicted to battles, trouble following them down every path. {In laymen’s terms they are referred to as “bad boys”.}   

~Vampires: Nocturnal males who prey on women, suck the life out of them, then move on to their next victim.    

~Firefighters:  Men who show up at the first sign of a flame but leave behind a scene of smouldering ashes.  

~Farmers: down-to-earth fellows, steady, reliable, yet slower than a John Deere in July and about as exciting as watching wheat grow.

~Monks: Tender, spiritual, non-verbal, funny dressers.

Each page displayed hundreds of near-identical characters with varying degrees of colorful clutter and debris surrounding them to further distract seekers from finding the One they sought.  Of course, Waldo was on every page but so deeply entrenched among a visual cacophony, the challenge was to find him among the bewildering frenzy of aberrations without curling up in the fetal position whimpering something incomprehensible.

The caption across the top of this literary treasure read, “Have you found Waldo yet?” And across the bottom, “Now with EYE BOGGLING EXTRAS!”

Indeed, my on-line dating experience unfolded much like pages in this Waldo compilation.  Promises to mingle with Christians, find bliss with my perfect match or  fall in love with my soul mate belied the fine print, common sense warnings that I most likely must stave off  hundreds…in my case thousands…of modern day giants, warriors, vampires, firefighters, farmers, & monks.  After countless hours, weeks, months spent looking for the “significant other” equivalent of a needle in a haystack, the Fantastic Journey was no longer quite so, well, fantastic. 

Those “eye-boggling extras”?  In my experience, they included photos of men flanked by Harleys, hound dogs, horses & hunting rifles, in addition to pictures of matches in costumes–from Superman to Shaquille O’Neal- and more than one fella sporting pumps and lipstick.  {Thankfully, the self-proclaimed nudist only posted pics of himself from the neck up.}

Photos were only the tip of the e-romance iceberg.  The biggest problem with on-lines daters, in my estimation is that most singles rush to fill out their profile while uneducated about and unrecovered from their previous relationship failures.  They haven’t invested in learning from their mistakes in an effort to move toward wholeness.  Whether newly divorced, recently widowed, or even single for years, many bring their trunk filled with unhealed wounds, self-exonerating blame, unrealistic expectations and unfulfilled fantasies into cyber space with them.  Unresolved issues clutter emotional landscapes, much like Waldo-type debris littering the pages of our story.

As singles, attracting quality people into our lives can prove a significant challenge.  Perhaps the best place to start is with our own trunks, unpacking the stuff we’ve been carrying around for years, embracing the call to health in mind, body & spirit, and working to become quality people ourselves.   Then, rather than searching for Waldo amidst a sea of frightening caricatures, we might actually discover there’s a truly fascinating individual smiling at us over the top of an inspirational anthology. 

Replacing the flamboyant children’s book on the shelf, I inquired of a store employee where I might find the self-help section.

Pretty Woman–God’s Perspective

On Thursday, January 26, I will be the guest speaker for Colorado Springs, CO, DreamMakers, a ministry for single women of ALL walks of life.  Whether you are widowed, never married, separated, divorced, young, young-at-heart or feeling REALLY OLD, if you’re a single woman, you are welcome to join us at Woodmen Valley Chapel’s Café area,  290 East Woodmen Road from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.   Here’s a sneak preview of my topic, “PRETTY WOMAN—God’s Perspective”.

Have you ever bumped into a girlfriend you haven’t seen in a long time and the first thing out of her mouth is, “YOU Look GREAT!”  Do you think to yourself…“Liar!”? 

Inside, you’re saying, “I’m overweight, my hair’s a mess, my tan has faded, I’ve got bags under my eyes, I bite my nails, I’m undisciplined, insecure, untalented, unworthy, and ugly.”  Then you hear these words spill out loud, “Thank you! You look Great too!!”? 

Why do we do that?  What in our spirit compels us to dig up all the junk we possibly can about ourselves and then accept it as gospel?  Why do we default to the negative voices in our head rather than cling to the truth of what God says about us?

In 1990 Julia Roberts starred in a movie called Pretty Woman.  You probably even saw this movie.  Roberts portrayed a beauty who made her way in the world by cashing in on her looks.  She lived as though she believed her only worth was in selling her body to the highest bidder.  Oddly though, an ache inside her told her there had to be something better out there.  I remember thinking how strange it was that her character would give herself from the neck down to just about anyone with cash in hand yet she had a hard & fast rule that she would not KISS any of her customers.  She so wanted to believe there was MORE for her than what she was getting paid for, and she held on to a tiny bastion of hope, allowing no one access to the sacred sanctuary of her lips.

What is it in my spirit that has caused me at times to live like this Pretty Woman?  No, I’m not a prostitute.  At least not in the literal sense defined by the law.  But you can bet there have been times in my life where I’ve compartmentalized my value and marketed myself for less than God says I’m worth.   I behaved as if I scarcely deserved 50 cents worth of Christ’s Love but not the full price of His Sacrifice.  Like the Pretty Woman I held certain small things sacred but would rummage through refuse in most other areas of life.  I didn’t value myself the way my Jesus does.

I see this so often in single women and it breaks my heart.  We might start out feeling like we are beautiful but somewhere along the road we lose touch with our true beauty.  Once like a stunning evening gown in Nordstrom, we hung in there for a while.  But the clock ticked off too many days, weeks, months and we were relegated to the sale rack.  Sadly, we did it to ourselves by taking a virtual red marker to our soul’s price tag. 

First, it was just a little…10% off.  We’re still feeling like we are worth a lot but we’re hoping this small mark down gets us noticed.   When it doesn’t, we pick up the pen again…20% off.  Surely now someone will snatch us up…for a date, a promotion, a relationship, a party invitation, a leadership role.  We’re looking for validation from someone, anyone.  And when we still don’t get what we think we need, we tell ourselves it’s because we don’t deserve good things.  Again we pick up the pen… 50% off.  The danger?  We keep discounting our worth until we end up in some bargain basement sale for 90% off.  Or donating ourselves to some guy named Good Will.  Trouble is, Good Will often has Bad Intentions.  What Happened?

In this presentation, we’re going to take a look at things single women use to define ourselves…the tools & traps this world offers us to trade not just our confidence but our true value for.  You may recognize several of these “tools” as ones you have applied to yourself.  You may even have others I don’t mention.  Our goal is to have some fun, maybe even laugh at ourselves, and to also thoughtfully consider who we think we are and who we REALLY are from the perspective of the Grand Designer of the ultimate Pretty Woman.  

The Myth of “The One” guest blog

My friend John P. posted this as a comment in my Oct 2010, “Test Driving Your Relationship” blog. https://livin4jesus.wordpress.com/2010/10/30/test-driving-your-relationship/   I couldn’t let his profound analysis & powerful exhortation remain buried in obscurity.  It’s worth reading…several times. 

The ‘one,’ the soul mate, is a myth, and a damaging one at that. Boy meets the one. Girl meets the one. They get married and realize their spouse is not the one. They have missed God’s perfect plan and doomed to live Plan B while the one is out there somewhere. This is a bad scenario and must be avoided by having God reveal whom he has chosen for us. We refuse the wisdom He offers, choosing to abdicate decision making and so we wait, and wait, and wait for God to make the decision for us. 
 
God does not have a perfect match for us (other than Himself). Have you seen the church? God does not even have a perfect match for Himself!

You want a Biblical marriage? Get over the myth of what you think a perfect plan looks like, find a real man or woman with a heart after God who is willing to walk a REAL journey with a real, live-able, workable faith and love. Prune your affections from those things that dull discernment and seek to fill your soul with things other than God. Know whom God is calling you to be, whom He is pruning you to be, what sacrifices He requires of you to become the man or woman of God that He has put as centermost in your heart to become. Is this potential mate compatible with your journey? Are you compatible with theirs?
 
God does indeed love you more than you could ever imagine, but He does not have a perfect plan (and a perfect spouse as a major component of that perfect plan) for your life. Well, theoretically He might, but it will never get enacted in this life on earth, because the shoes are too big for our imperfect feet to walk in. Our feet and legs are too small to take those large, perfect strides. We don’t need a perfect plan, or a perfect match. We need to be imperfect, earthen vessels of divine grace to one another as we work out our Salvation. His part of that walk is perfect: ours … not so much.
 
I wish God would make all my decisions for me, or at least the biggies: spouse, career, education, iPhone vs. Android. As a good parent, our Father seems much more interested in training us to walk in wisdom, stretching us to think His thoughts, transforming us to love the things He loves, than He does in how well we perform in carrying out some perfect agenda. He treasures our imperfect decision making and in true God-like fashion, redeems our scribblings as He incorporates them into the masterpiece of His creation. Joining our imperfect lives, imperfect decisions and imperfect mates to His perfect Son is an act of faith. He is the great Redeemer, not just for forgiveness, but imparting to us the Holy Spirit, travelling this imperfect life with us as we are transformed and led into the complete (and perfect) fullness of fellowship with God.
 
We are fickle creatures. There will always come along another who grabs us as being prettier, smarter, kinder, richer, more loving, spiritual, and who will never grow old or have morning breath. The flesh is stupid that way, always chasing after some idol, something better. What if a nicer vessel does come along? And it will! Whether it truly is, or only imagined, does not matter. You will believe it to be so. Accept the inevitable and plan ahead to just get over it. God is infinitely perfect, wondrous and beautiful beyond compare and yet our eyes light up for the things of this world all the time. – Prone to wander, Lord I fear it. Yet, in faith, I am not paralyzed. I keep turning my heart and face toward home.
 
Do you delight in your prospective mate? Good. Do you delight in the One whom this vessel contains? Excellent. In loving this vessel, are you able to fill and be filled with God’s love for them and for you? The wine of His love, my friend, is the real treasure. Over time it will transform the vessel from within.
 
Do you have a God birthed desire to be poured out in sacrificial love for this person? Choose wisely, asking and expecting God to give you wisdom, not decisions. The one whom you choose will prune you deeply. You should have a pretty good idea of what things in your life, and in their life, will be lopped off, and what things will flourish as a result of that pruning.
 
How long does this take? It all depends. Are one or both of you going through a major transition in life: entering adulthood, graduation, career change, freedom from chemical dependency, emotional breakthrough, parenthood, break-up, empty nest, divorce, death, spiritual rebirth? If so your needs at the moment may be way out of proportion than what for you is ‘normal life.’ If you or your loved one are ‘in love,’ twitterpated, high on the good, good feelings of limerance (the feeling of falling in love), then you really don’t know one another when sober. This is no time to be making life-long covenants. Give the feelings, the natural chemical high, time to return to a normal state. Do you love yourself and your prospective mate for whom they are and for whom God is calling each to be? Or are either of you just in love with how you feel about life and yourself when high on limerance? Limerance makes the critical person gush with positive things to day and the gloomy person vibrant with optimism – they are finally happy with themselves and they love you for it. For a season -a very short season. The season of limerance passes, the criticism and gloom that they despise in themselves returns and they realize that they ‘missed God,’ you are not ‘the one’ He prepared as part of His perfect plan for their life.
 
There is only one, “The One,” and that is the Lord Himself. The Holy Spirit is your only true Soul Mate. May the Lord grant you wisdom and insight as together you discern how joining your life with another will change you both and aide or hinder God’s calling on your lives.